Love stories absolutely kill me. Doesn’t matter if it’s an epic romance, like with Darcy and Elizabeth, or a cheezy made-for-TV romantic comedy. It’s my super-sappy addiction.
And of course, YA love stories tend to be my favorites. The novelty of passion, first touches and first kisses, and that inaugural heartbreak that wrecks you. It’s all so intense.
So, what does it take to be a Great YA love interest? I’m taking a hard look at some of my favorites, on the page and off, to figure out what makes them Great. BEWARE: possible spoilers!
1. Seth Cohen from The OC. Adorkable, witty, and completely flawed. His on-and-off relationship with Summer is perfectly melodramatic and perfectly high school. Lover of comic books and indie music, his nerdiness converges with an antithetical hipness. Ryan Atwood (brooding bad boy) was the show’s lead, but Seth’s character broke out and ended up becoming wildly popular. I suspect Seth’s most attractive feature is his innocence, which makes him not only relatable but also non-threatening.
2. Marcus Flutie from The Jessica Darling Series (Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, etc). Perhaps one of the best things about Marcus is the effortless way in which he falls in and out of Jessica’s life. He’s a non-conformist, a redhead, and a bad boy that’s really, deep down, a good boy. He is a dreg, but he volunteers at an old folks home. He’s labeled “Krispy Kreme” because he seems like such a burn out, but Jessica comes to find that he’s a lot more intelligent and worldly than other kids give him credit for. There is a thrill in figuring out something that everyone else is missing, and of course, it helps that Marcus is tall, tattooed, and dreadlocked. That’s pretty hot.
3. Cliff from Bring it On. Well, he could really be Seth Cohen, now couldn’t he?
4. James from Audrey, Wait! Another redhead! Steadfast and open-armed, he really catches Audrey when she falters from all of the attention she’s suddenly receiving. His romance factor is really ratcheted up because he is so clearly compassionate about Audrey’s problems, and he’s there for her, unerringly, throughout the whole debacle. He’s the strong, dependable guy that a lot of girls undervalue until they experience the devotion for themselves.
5. Ron Weasley from Harry Potter. OK, so I have a thing for redheads. I must. Ron is socially awkward and hilarious, so he’s really a redhead Seth Cohen, but I can’t leave it at that. Ron has deep family ties and he is intensely loyal to his best friends. He’s got the innocence and wit of Seth Cohen, but without the hipness factor. He really isn’t hip at all. But he is sweet, a trait that many of these love interests have, and he constantly seems to surprise himself. His humility underscores his achievements, and the slow burn between him and Hermione over the years emphasizes the fact that Ron is a love interest that grows on you instead of leaping off the page immediately.